Here we begin with Martin Lynch-Gibbon who married to Antonia, friends with Palmer Anderson (her psychiatrist), brother to Alexander, and having an affair with Georgie. He thinks things are more or less going fine when Antonia announces one day that she is leaving him to be with Palmer. As also happens with Iris Murdoch novels, this leads to Palmer Anderson deciding that he and Martin need to have a sit down conversation where they’ll end up speaking much more about Martin than Antonia. Part of this is Palmer insisting that Martin admit that he’s having an affair, which he won’t do. In the meantime, a new person arrives: Honor Klein. Dr Klein is Palmer’s half-sister, an academic, who among other things is an amateur Japanese swords-expert.
Now things are in turmoil with Martin who’s heart, similar to the Magnetic Fields song, is “running round like a chicken with its head cut off” — but according to Martin HE is the severed head. He’s not the only one as there’s series of rotating chairs of love interests as we barrel to the close of this short novel waiting for the dust to settle.
The book is weird and hilarious and Martin is so amoral that’s his machinations are almost charming, even when devastating.